After the disappointment of November’s double broccoli quinoa recipe, I was surprised when Derek picked another broccoli quinoa recipe to try. This one for broccoli cheddar quinoa bites is easier though. Once you have the quinoa cooked you just chop some broccoli, grate the cheese, mince a few cloves of garlic, and mix it all together and bake it. Easy peasy broccolisy.
Except for one problem. When I started making them I realized the recipe called for a mini-muffin tin, which I didn’t have. I debated using a regular muffin tin, and then decided to just use my mini ice-cream scoop and bake the balls on a cookie sheet. That method actually worked pretty well.The “bites” got nice and crisp, and they were tasty.
In addition to ditching the muffin tin, I cut down on the salt, and added another half of a cup of broccoli Derek and I both liked these bites. They reminded me a little of the five-grain croquettes I used to make. Except that this recipe uses cheese and egg as a binder, whereas that one uses very thoroughly cooked arborio rice.
Although the recipe author advertises these bites as kid-friendly, they didn’t work so well for Alma. They were too big for her to eat herself, and she hasn’t yet figured out that she can’t just stuff the entire thing in her mouth. So we had to break the “bite” up into pieces, and then it kind of crumbled everywhere. Plus the nice crispy outside was a little challenging for her, with her paucity of teeth. She seemed to find the whole thing just a tad dry. She did better with the leftovers, because I reheated them with a little milk to soften them up and fed them to her with a spoon. She definitely liked the flavor. I probably should have cut the broccoli into tinier pieces though. She sometimes struggled when the broccoli bites were too large.
Next time I make this recipe I think I will substitute a little of the quinoa for amaranth, I will double the broccoli amount, and maybe try 3 eggs.
Update Feb 2016:
I’ve since tried a somewhat different recipe for quinoa spinach croquettes. They call for more eggs, and feta in addition to cheddar. But otherwise they seem relatively similar. The recipe is actually titled “Quinoa quiche muffins with spinach and cheese,” but they don’t really have the texture of a typical quiche. They’re more like a muffin, but again, I made them on a cookie sheet instead of in a muffin tin, to save on cleanup time.
The first time we made them we followed the recipe somewhat. We used frozen spinach rather than fresh, and I cooked the quinoa with less water. Below is the original ingredient list, with my comments/changes in parentheses:
- 1 cup water (I used less, see note below)
- ½ cup quinoa
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (Could probably be reduced. The recipe is already rich from all the cheese.)
- 1 onion, thinly sliced (I minced the onion, since Alma has trouble gumming up large onion pieces.)
- 4 cups fresh spinach leaves (I used about 6? ounces, maybe 3/4 of a cup of defrosted, drained frozen spinach. But 8 oz / 1 or more cups would probably have been better.)
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste (We added pepper but not salt, since the cheese is already quite salty.)
- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese (150g)
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (115g)
- ¼ cup flat leaf parsley (I used frozen, pre-chopped parsley, and added in some fresh chopped dill as well.)
- 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
I wanted extra quinoa, so made 1.5 cups of quinoa with 2 and 1/4 cups of water and 1/4 tsp. salt. I cooked it for about 17 minutes, then left on the burner with the lid on to steam for 10 minutes. We used 1.5 cups of the cooked quinoa in the recipe.
I packed the mix into a 1/3 cup measuring cup, then plopped the formed croquettes out onto a lightly oiled cookie sheet. The recipe says it makes 6 muffins but I got 8 croquettes out, so a total of 8*1/3 = 8/3 = almost 3 cups for one recipe. We only ended up baking them for about 30 minutes I think, until they were starting to brown on the outside. Maybe they cook faster on a cookie sheet than in muffin tins?
Everyone liked these croquettes. Derek said they were very tasty and Alma ate one happily for lunch. We were disappointed that we hadn’t doubled the recipe, as we wanted to have some leftovers to freeze for quick breakfasts or lunches. We froze one as a test and left the rest in the fridge to eat.
I ate a little of the quinoa, but the rest was just sitting in the fridge, and so I decided to use the rest in a double batch of these croquettes. This time, however, I was out of spinach, so I used broccoli instead. I added 3 cups of quinoa and 3 cups of very finely chopped raw broccoli (chopped in my mini-processor). I left out the onion but added some frozen chives along with the frozen parsley, and two small ice cube worth of frozen, pre-chopped garlic. Since I didn’t saute the onion, I didn’t add any oil. Also, I cut down on the feta a bit. Instead of 2 cups of crumbled feta I added maybe 1 3/4? I made a first batch with a half cup measuring cup, and fit 8 on my cookie sheet. They took about 35 to 40 minutes to bake. For the second batch I used a quarter cup measuring cup, to increase the crispy to soft ratio. I made 11.5 of the 1/4 cup ones. So 8/2 + 11.5/4 = almost 7 cups for a double batch. That’s a bit more than I got last time, presumably because I added about twice as many cups of uncooked broccoli as I added of cooked spinach. I’m not sure yet which size we like better. They’re both tasty. The final dish was still quite rich and salty and held together well, so I think the cheese could be cut even further. Next time I’d add more herbs too. With broccoli or spinach, I think dill, parsley, and chives works well.
The croquettes came out very tasty. We froze a bunch this time. I’ll report back about how they held up once we defrost them. I’m hoping that something like this could be a good quick breakfast to make on a Sunday and keep in the freezer for mornings when we have no time to cook. I can imagine mixing up the veggies too. Instead of broccoli or spinach, maybe next time I could try cauliflower, mushrooms, winter squash and/or brussels sprouts. In the summer I could imagine making them with eggplant, bell peppers, tomato and/or zucchini. I’d love to try to up the veggie quotient a little. This time I used equal amounts quinoa and broccoli (3 cups of each), but next time maybe I’ll try 4 cups of veggies and 3 cups of quinoa. I’d also like to try adding some other grains in, primarily amaranth. I’d add teff to, if I could find it here. Maybe a little millet? Chopped nuts or seeds could be another nice addition, but right now I’d have to chop them very finely, almost to a flour, since I don’t think Alma can handle any pieces of nuts yet. Maybe roasted pumpin seeds ground to a flour with chunks of cooked pumpkin and sage as the herb? Finally, I could try varying the types of cheese. Obviously, the possibilities are endless. If anyone finds a nice combo, post it in the comments!